An infection of the urethra, or bladder, if not treated early, may move up to one or both the kidneys, causing a full-blown kidney infection (also known as pyelonephritis). Women have a higher predisposition to kidney infections as compared to men. There may be two reasons for this: (i) Their shorter urethra (1.5-2 inches); and (ii) The proximity of the urethra to the anus. These two factors enable bacteria to easily enter the bladder and cause an infection, which may then spread to the kidneys. The rest of the following article will explain the common symptoms of kidney infection in women and give you some information on its treatment as well.
What Indicates a Kidney Infection?
A kidney infection does not take long to trigger symptoms. In most people, once the infection sets in, it usually starts exhibiting its symptoms over a few hours, or days.
You may suspect a kidney infection if you experience the following symptoms.
- Pain in the back, flank, and the area around the genitals
- Fever (103.1 °F)
- Shivering spells, or chills
- Feeling tired and weak
- Having a general feeling of illness
- Poor appetite
- Abdominal cramps
Consider seeing your doctor at the earliest, if your back or flank pain is persistent, and your fever is accompanied by one or more of the severe symptoms which may include:
- Painful urination
- Bloody, or cloudy urine
- Strong-smelling urine
- Persistent or frequent urge to urinate
- Burning sensation while urinating
Depending on the bacteria found in the urine test and the condition of the patient, the course of the treatment is decided upon. Generally, the administration of antibiotics is the first line of treatment to eliminate the causal pathogen. Most people start noticing improvement in their symptoms within a few days of the treatment and recuperate after about 2 weeks. However, they may still have to follow their antibiotic course for a week, or longer. This is to ensure that the infection leaves them for good. In case of severe infections, hospitalization may be required.
- Drink plenty of fluids including water. Fluids will keep you hydrated and help flush out bacteria from your system. You may want to avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages. Such products irritate the bladder.
- Get plenty of rest. Resting will help your body fight off the infection and shorten the recovery time.
- Use painkillers if you should. However, it is better if you consult your doctor before taking any.
- A heating pad may help reduce pain in the aching areas.
A kidney infection can be easily evaded by taking these few simple steps:
- An important factor in the prevention of urinary tract infection (UTI) and thus a kidney infection is complete evacuation of the bladder. Women are advised to avoid "hovering" (not sitting down on the toilet seat to urinate). According to doctors, urinating at this position, may result in incomplete evacuation (leaving some urine back in the bladder), which may encourage bacterial growth.
- Do not fight the urge to urinate. Holding back urine increases the risk of UTI. So, urinate soon after you have an urge; even better, urinate frequently.
- Doctors also put emphasis on the importance of emptying the bladder soon after intercourse. This practice helps to get rid of any bacteria in the urethra and thus reduces the risk of an infection.
- Women are advised to wipe from front to back after visiting the bathroom.
- Clinical studies have proven that drinking cranberry juice helps in keeping bacteria in the urinary tract from multiplying and spreading the infection.
Kidney infections can be easily cured with antibiotics. However, the illness requires prompt medical attention in order to avoid severe complications, like kidney damage. That is why, knowing about the common symptoms of kidney infection and recognizing them as soon as they surface can keeps things from getting worse.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical professional.